A Touch of Class
Though the acoustic guitar has a special place in Brazilian music and has some remarkable performers — Dilermando Reis, Garoto, Guinga, Marco Pereira, Raphael Rabello, Ricardo Silveira, Romero Lubambo and many others — one cannot forget the importance of Brazilian pianists as well. It would be difficult to imagine what Brazilian music would be like without the choros and tangos written by Ernesto Nazareth and Chiquinha Gonzaga or the bossa nova of Antônio Carlos Jobim. And how can we forget Carlos Barbosa Lima, Antonio Adolfo, Francis Hime,Marcos Nimrichter and so many others who continue the strong piano tradition in Brazilian music? The piano has been such a force in our music that some great popular recordings have been produced simply featuring piano and voice. Among those, here are some unforgettable examples: Cesar Camargo Mariano and Leny Andrade’s Nós, Marinho Boffa and João Nogueira’s Letra & Música: Chico Buarque, Cesar Camargo Mariano and Pedro Mariano’s Piano e Voz, Leandro Braga and Johnny Alf’s Letra & Música: Noel Rosa and Cristóvão Bastos and Leny Andrade’s Letra & Música: Antônio Carlos Jobim. Now we can add a brand new album to that list: André Mehmari and Ná Ozzetti’s Piano e Voz.
Pianist, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, composer André Mehmari (Niterói, RJ – 1977) started his musical education at eight years of age. At 13, he was already performing at some jazz clubs. Then in 1995, he moved to São Paulo in order to continue his studies at the University of São Paulo’s Music School. Though very young, Mehmari has received numerous accolades, including composition awards in both pop and erudite categories. In 1998, he also received the Prêmio Visa of Instrumental MPB (Popular Brazilian Music) as he performed on piano, flute, acoustic guitar, clarinet, viola, violin and percussion side by side with bassist Célio Barros. Though he recorded with other musicians (e.g., Tutty Moreno, Carmina Juarez, André Hosoi, Tom Jobim, Joyce, Sérgio Santos, Mônica Salmaso and many others), it was only in 2002 that Mehmari released his first solo album, Canto, in which he played 23 instruments! As for singer and songwriter Ozzetti (São Paulo, 1958), music runs in her family: brothers Dante and Marco are both guitarists and sister Marta is a flutist. Ozzetti began her career in 1978 as a member of the vocal group Rumo. Still as a member of that group (she only left it in 1992), she released her first solo album in 1988. For that album, she was awarded the Prêmio Sharp for Best New Artist. She repeated that feat with her 1994 album, but this time with two awards, including one for best album. Her winning record goes on and on. In 2000, she participated in the Globo TV music festival and was chosen best performer.
Piano e Voz stands out among other recordings because of its arrangements and Mehmari and Ozzetti’s superb performances. There is a wonderful blend of classic and contemporary styles in the arrangements, and the performances are undoubtedly classy. Mehmari’s piano at times exhibits clear influences of classical music (“Because” and “Nosso Amor,” for example), sometimes the essence of Ernesto Nazareth’s choro legacy (e.g., “Bambino”) and even a touch of Luiz Gonzaga’s “Asa Branca” (the introduction of “O Ciúme”). Then there is a most extraordinarily beautiful rendition of Pixinguinha’s “Rosa.” Besides Mehmari’s sublime piano solo, Ozzetti’s haunting vocal is unforgettable. Not counting the original Orlando Silva’s version, Ozzetti’s simple approach is unparalleled and truly majestic. The medley of “Queda D’Água/Piazzito Carreteiro” is touching, but the best is really saved for the closing medley, “Felicidade/Sete Anéis e Infância.” The longing melody of “Felicidade” is transformed by its elaborate piano accompaniment. The melancholic tone changes into a playful mode as the short interlude of “Sete Anéis e Infância” is used in this arrangement. In “Gabriela,” on the other hand, we find Ozzetti’s deliciously lazy and vivacious vocal capturing the spirit of the song. Contrasting with the lightness in “Gabriela,” Mehmari’s begins “Luz Negra” in a very somber tone. The transition is exquisitely memorable. Chopin could have written that melody! The same could be said about the arrangement used in “A Ostra e o Vento.” Though Portuguese versions of English songs don’t always work well, I have to tip my hat off to both the version and arrangement created for “Cry Me a River” in “Chora um Rio.” In particular, the verse “chora um Tietê que eu chorei rios por você” is great.
André Mehmari and Ná Ozzetti truly found a pot of gold in their magical combination presented with Piano e Voz. The blend of piano and voice, the classy arrangements and the meticulous performances turn Piano e Voz in a most memorable experience to be enjoyed at special moments.
You can learn more about the artists and music in their websites: André Mehmari and Ná Ozzetti.
André Mehmari & Ná Ozzetti
Piano e Voz
MCD MCD 298 (2005)
- Pérolas aos Poucos (Zé Miguel Wisnik – Paulo Neves)
- O Ciúme (Caetano Veloso)
- Bambino (Ernesto Nazareth – Zé Miguel Wisnik)
- Because (John Lennon – Paul McCartney)
- Rosa (Pixinguinha – Otávio de Souza)
- Queda D’Água (Caetano Veloso) / Piazzito Carreteiro (Luiz Menezes)
- Gabriela (Antônio Carlos Jobim)
- Luz Negra (Nelson Cavaquinho – Amâncio Cardoso)
- A Ostra e o Vento (Chico Buarque de Hollanda)
- Nosso Amor (Dante Ozzetti – Luiz Tatit)
- Eternamente (André Mehmari – Rita Altério)
- Chora um Rio (Arthur Hamilton – Arthur Nestrovski)
- O Vôo da Bailarina (André Mehmari – Cristina Saraiva)
- Os Povos (Milton Nascimento – Fernando Brant)
- Felicidade (Lupicínio Rodrigues) / Sete Anéis e Infância (Egberto Gismonti)